Avalanche warnings as heavy snowfall hits Switzerland

Recognise anything? Bikes are cars covered in snow in Zurich on Friday morning Keystone / Bieri Walter

Authorities in Switzerland have warned of high avalanche risk in mountain regions after heavy snowfall.

This content was published on January 15, 2021 - 10:11

Some eastern parts of the country experienced up to 80 centimetres of snowfall in 24 hours. Parts of the Goms valley on the border with Italy were cut off due to blocked roads. 

Since Wednesday some parts of the Alps have received up to 2 metres of fresh snow. These are record quantities that usually only occur every 20 years or so, experts said.

During the night to Saturday, parts of the country experienced the coldest night of winter so far at up to -15 degrees Celsius. 

There were several avalanches in the Bernese Oberland and the central canton of Uri on Thursday. There is a continuing risk for those living in these areas, as well as for winter sports enthusiasts.

“High avalanche danger will be encountered over a wide area. Outside marked and open pistes a very dangerous avalanche situation will prevail,” warned the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in its avalanche bulletin for Friday.

The bulletin showedExternal link a level 4 high rating across a large swathe of the country, from Sion in the west through to Andermatt, and on to Chur in the east.

Some parts of the country are struggling to cope with the snow. Zurich's public transport company halted all tram and bus services in Switzerland's biggest city on Friday, saying snow had brought down trees and blocked access to three vehicle depots overnight.

But others are enjoying the unusually high snow levels, such as the penguins in Zurich Zoo (which is currently closed due to coronavirus regulations (video SRF).

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Snowfall is expected to slowly ease throughout the day, weather experts predict.

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